Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of U.S pastor Saeed Abedini, has personally delivered a letter pleading for her husband's release from prison to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after a chance encounter in New York.
"The encounter occurred as Naghmeh was participating in an interview in the lobby of a New York hotel where she is staying. As it turns out, the Iranian delegation is also staying at the same hotel," Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), shared in a press release on Monday.
"As Naghmeh was talking with a reporter, the Iranian delegation – with President Hassan Rouhani – walked through the lobby toward the elevators. Naghmeh approached the delegation and respectfully introduced herself to President Rouhani and speaking in Farsi asked him to release her husband who is imprisoned in Evin Prison because of his faith. She told the Iranian president's delegation she wanted to deliver a letter that Pastor Saeed had written to the president pleading for his release."
The president's delegation apparently accepted the letter from Naghmeh and said that they would give it to Rouhani.
Saeed Abedini has been in Evin Prison in Tehran for a year now, and despite an international campaign pressing for his release, the Iranian Court refused to reduce his 8-year sentence earlier this year. Iranian officials have accused Abedini of endangering national security, but the ACLJ, which represents Naghmeh and their two young children in the U.S., says that Iran has targeted the pastor for his Christian faith.
"We are hopeful that President Rouhani will quickly act for Pastor Saeed's release as he has done for other prisoners of conscience in Iran in recent days," Sekulow added.
The ACLJ recently launched the largest campaign in its history, encouraging supporters of Pastor Abedini to write to Rouhani and petition for his release. The goal of the campaign is to send thousands of letters each week to the Iranian president until he decides to act and grant the American citizen his release.
The legal group also noted that last week, Iran released 11 prisoners of conscience, including two Christians, but other detainees, such as Abedini remain without an answer.
"While we of course welcome this humanitarian gesture in Iran, it's past time for Iran to release Pastor Saeed Abedini. His only crime is his Christian faith, he presents no threat to Iranian national security, and he only wants to return home to his family in Idaho. There is simply no just cause for continuing a prison sentence that violates not only the Iranian constitution but also international human rights conventions," Sekulow added.
Recently, Abedini wrote a letter to his daughter Rebekka for her seventh birthday, the second birthday she has endured without her father.
"In order to endure these hardships and persecutions, we need to learn to be patient and to stand up for our faith and for what we believe. The Word of God says that patience makes us complete," Abedini wrote.